Blue Ridge is located along the western edge of Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument near Springville, CA. It extends west from Dennison Ridge to form the watershed boundary between the Kaweah and Tule Rivers. Near the top of the ridge is the small Blue Ridge National Wildlife Refuge which was established in 1982 to protect critical habitat of the endangered California Condor. This is part of a larger Bureau of Land Management Area of Critical Environmental Concern. According to the BLM, "Blue Ridge has been an important California Condor roost location close to nesting and foraging areas. Both the historic record and recent surveys by the National Audubon Society, the Condor Research Center, California Department of Fish and Game, and the Bureau confirmed frequent use by condors from June through August. It is also suspected that periodic use of the roost occurred throughout the rest of the year." I have yet to see a condor up there but I hope someday I will!
The views from Blue Ridge are very scenic and include Maggie Mountain
, Moses Mountain
, Dennison Mountain, Homer's Nose
, Alta Peak
, Mount Silliman
, and on a clear day you can see west across the Central Valley to the Coast Range. At the top of the ridge there are huge flat granite rocks and some interesting boulders that make for good scrambling. There is also an old Forest Service Lookout that is no longer manned as well as several radio towers.
Blue Ridge was the first foothill mountain people had to cross while travelling on the historic Jordan Trail. This trail originated in Yokohl Valley near Exeter and travelled southeast to cross Blue Ridge and then continue on over the southern Sierra. John Jordan built this trail in 1861 and it was the first to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Tulare County. It was a toll trail that was used mainly by miners seeking silver in the Coso Mines. Parts of the trail are still in use today.
From Hwy 190 in Springville turn left (north) on the Balch Park Road, County Road J37. Take this road for about 16 miles then turn left (north) on the Blue Ridge Road, County Road 276. This road is paved but is very narrow and steep so go slow! Follow the Blue Ridge Road until the end and the top of the ridge.
This road may have some snow and ice on it during the winter months (typically December through April) but is usually accessible with some careful driving. And winter can be a beautiful time to visit, especially when the Central Valley is sopped in with fog. Once you're above 1,000 or so you usually rise above the fog and it's sunny!
No hiking or parking permits are needed to explore Blue Ridge. Please follow Leave No Trace
There are no developed campgrounds in the immediate area (the closest would be in the Mountain Home
area at the top of the Balch Park Road about 1 hour away) but you can disperse camp on National Forest land. There is some private property in this area so make sure that you're on NF land (buying a Sequoia National Forest map
would help) and remember to pack out what you pack in, bring your own water, don't drive off designated roads, and make sure you have a campfire permit if you plan on having a campfire. Campfire permits can be picked up free of charge from any Forest Service, California Department of Forestry, or Bureau of Land Management office.
External LinksSequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument
Blue Ridge National Wildlife Refuge
Blue Ridge Area of Critical Environmental Concern
Tulare County Mountains Weather Forecast
Buck Rock Foundation
(information on Blue Ridge and other Forest Service Lookouts)